The American Frontier is made up of folklore, history, geography, and cultural expression of their life from the American Westward colonization to the 20th century. But the most popular attention mainly happened in the second half of the 19th century, the period called The Old West of the Wild West. Frontier historians say that the story of the making and defense of the communities, development of markets, and creation of states is a tale of conquest. It makes American Frontier in popular culture where survival, determination, and people coming together with different cultures started what life in America is now.
The United States expanded from coast to coast starting through treaties with the neighboring nations and native tribes. This, political deals, military conquest, and the making of law and order defined a growing nation in the American Frontier. Adding up the building of farms, ranches, and towns, digging mines, and persistence to attract migration of foreigners improved its economy.
As the story of the American Frontier passed from different generations, the myths of the West shown in films wouldn’t change the belief of Americans and foreigners alike. America is “no other nation.” It has taken a time and place in the past to produce a concept in one’s imagination that amounts to how the West was formed.
One of the American Frontier’s popular cultures was the era of its lawlessness. Two types of crimes were distinguished during that period. One is the unprofessional crime like dueling, crimes committed when drunk, cutting trees, and, surprisingly, selling whiskeys to Indians. On the other hand, stealing horses, highway robbery, and counterfeiting is considered professional crime. Because the law was too vague, criminals have many opportunities to rob wealthy families, and because lawmen has insufficient means of detecting, arresting, holding, and convicting criminals, the crime rate during that time was high. However, once convicted, sentences are severe.
Bandits are most common during this era. The first type of banditry was the Mexicans and Indians. The second are those by the infamous outlaws of the West like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Dalton Gang, and a hundred more who robbed banks, trains, and stagecoaches.
The cattle industry arrived sooner. The cowboys were tied up to the death of a huge group of buffalo. Back then they were over 25 million. these grass-eating animals were the vital resource of food, clothing, and shelter. Due to hunting, loss of their natural habitat, and disease, reduced the number of the herds up until the 19th century and it came to the point of near extinction. Did you know that the last 10 to 15 million buffalo died between 1872 to 1883, leaving only a hundred? The dependent tribes were offered by the government that they will be supplied with food and clothing, provided they will stop hunting for herds, to preserve the species.
The end of the buffalo herds gave way to millions of acres for cattle ranching. Cattle ranching was introduced by the Spanish cattlemen in the 17th century. The men who worked on these ranches were called the “Vaqueros” they were the first cowboys in the Old West. Most of the cattle ranches were located in Kansas City, Dodge City, and Wichita. When the cattle are fat enough, the cowboys will drive them along Chrisholm and Shawnee trails. When they reach that point, the cattle will be shipped to St. Louis and other states for slaughter and consumption.
When you hear the word American Frontier or the Old West, what comes into your mind is the word “Cowboy.” A photo of a cowboy merely represents the era of the American Frontier. Let us get to know them deeply. In real life, a cowboy’s life is pretty tough, more than how they were usually portrayed in films like, playing guitar or harmonica or maybe just hanging around in saloons and drinking beer. Before they drive the cattle to their destination, these tough men’s job was to feed and take care of the cattle. They are also responsible for castrating and branding cattle. When it’s time to drive them, it usually takes them 14 hours of shift because the cattle need to be watched closely. Although food consumption was never an issue for them as they were filled with bacon, beans, potatoes, and dried fruits, drinking and gambling are prohibited, and may be given a fine when they are caught doing it. This is how serious their jobs were. So, when the duty is done, they have all the liberty to do whatever they like.
Some of these cowboys were a product of the Civil war who comes home to their ruined homes with no opportunity to start life again, they chased the West to find a way of living. What made them more iconic was their “cowboy outfit” and this is more for their protection and comfort. But the Cowboy hat was their most iconic symbol.
What is considered the American frontier?
Is there still an American frontier?
The frontier did not close but it changed in some ways. The shifting went quickly towards the west in the 19th century. The frontier gradually moved east, and large areas of the Great Plains have now reverted to the frontier.
What happened to the American frontier?
American West reached a dense population that caused the frontier line to disappear in 1890. The Census Bureau declared the closing of the frontier.